AAAACCHHOOOO! Excuse me! We’re having a little problem with allergies already this spring, how about you?!? It’s Springtime and allergies are in full flare! I love Spring, it is my favorite season! The grass is so green, the flowers are so pretty and brilliant, the birdies are singing, the air is warming up, what’s not to like? Well, ok, yes, the pollen and allergens that travel up our nose as we begin to venture back outside.
Can you recognize the symptoms??? Some patients tell me they don’t have allergies, they just have a cough.
- Well, if that cough is nagging you mostly at night and when you wake in the morning, you might have allergies.
- If you wake up and have to clear your throat or blow your nose, you might have allergies.
- If your child is coughing when they first wake up, it sounds a little wet, or a little hoarse, but then goes away in 30-45 minutes or so, they might have allergies.
- If you sneeze, you might have allergies.
- If you have a sore, scratchy throat, but no fever, you might have allergies. (It is always a good idea to have a sore throat check out with your doctor or NP, if it’s strep, it has to be treated.)
- If you have a clear runny nose that doesn’t get worse and doesn’t go away, you might have allergies.
- If you have itchy, watery eyes, you might have allergies.
- If your child has asthma and is wheezing, it may be worsened by allergies.
There are many people that don’t think they have allergies, but they might…. . Keep in mind that if you notice these symptoms year round, your allergies may be indoor and outdoor. The best way to determine if you have allergies is to see you primary care provide or an allergist. My allergy doc and his RN/Allergy Specialist wife, are a great resource for me! They are two of the most knowledgeable people I know. They are the best!! If you are local, email me and I will give you their contact info. They would be happy to help!
There are millions of particles floating around in our environment. Most people will have a little trouble in the Spring, even if they don’t suffer from bad allergies. I find that even if you aren’t allergic to pollen, it can still be very irritating to your sinuses. We have all seen the yellow cars that are so hard to keep clean in the Springtime. Imagine breathing in that yellow dust every time you are outside, the pollen can sit in your nasal passages and sinuses just like it sits on the cars.
So, what can you do about your allergies so that you can enjoy the great outdoors???
- If you don’t typically suffer from allergy problems, a netty pot can be a great way to help clean out those sinuses. I have friends that swear by their nasal rinses! You will want to microwave or boil the water before using the netti pot…of course, you should allow it to cool to room temperature before doing the rinse. (Thanks, Kathy!)
- Taking an antihistamine such as Claritin or Zyrtec can be helpful, if you find that this does not resolve your symptoms, I recommend seeing your medical provider for an alternative.
- Nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasonex can be quite helpful. They help to reduce the swelling and secretions caused by allergens.
- Eye drops such as Zatidor or Pataday can be helpful as well. Check with your health care provider to be sure this is the appropriate treatment for your family.
- Wash your hair every night!! As we go though the day, all kinds of allergens sit on our hair. If we don’t wash them off, they are on the pillow. Laying on a pillow full of allergens all night is just as bad or even worse than being outside.
- Keep your windows closed! The first thing I want to do when the weather warms up is open the windows. My husband runs behind me closing them all up again because he and Joshua have bad allergies. Keeping the windows closed keeps the allergens out!
- Get rid of carpet and heavy drapes that hold dust and allergens. Hard floors and blinds are much easier to keep clean.
- Buy hypoallergenic pillow and mattress covers. I am not even going to mention all the allergens (dust mites,etc) that can be trapped in pillows. Speaking of which, I think I need some new ones. :-/
- When you are cleaning the house, wet dust and wet mop. Sweeping and dry dusting just moves the dust around. Investing in a vacuum with a good HEPA filter to trap the allergens can be helpful also. Many vacuums just blow the dust right back out.
- Immunotherapy: Allergy shots provide small exposure to specific allergens to help the immune system build up antibodies against the allergen. Immunotherapy works!
- Don’t forget that Hydration can be helpful! If you learn nothing else from me, you will learn the importance of hydration (see The Importance of Hydration for more info on adequate hydration)
- Treating allergies can be tricky, don’t try to do it all by yourself.
If your allergies are troublesome enough that a daily Claritin or Zyrtec isn’t helpful, I strongly recommend seeing an allergist. Most people don’t like shots, but those who get and need allergy shots will tell you it is very worth it. They definitely work! Please keep in mind that untreated allergies can cause increased problems for those with asthma and eczema. I see so many kids with eczema problems that are not on allergy medication, allergy medication may be key in controlling the eczema symptoms. The secretions that come from inflamed nasal and sinus tissue can cause ear infections, sinus infections, and headaches. I have found that most people that suffer from allergies are allergic to grass and dust mites. So inside and outside, there is always exposure. These people should be on allergy medication year round.
There are a many different foods that cause allergies as well, a couple of the most common are peanut and shellfish. Most peanut and shellfish allergies are quite dangerous and can cause severe breathing problems. Drew Elizabeth has a friend in her class, Sophie, with a peanut allergy. All the students and all the parents were made aware immediately for Sophie’s safety. A bad peanut allergy can cause hospitalization and death,it is nothing to play with! Drew came home from school the first week telling us all about peanut allergies and how dangerous they can be. I’m glad they designate a “no nut” table during lunch, all schools should, and many do. Drew loves peanut butter tastykakes and has taken them for lunch all through preschool. She will tell us to be sure not to put any peanut butter tastykakes in her lunch, because she wants to be able to sit with Sophie at lunch, what a sweet friend! I love that girl!
Many people suffer from food sensitivities vs. food allergies. I suffer from occasional stomach pains, and was convinced it was from some food sensitivity. Food sensitives can present as stomach pain. I went to my friends at the ENT/Allergiest and had my friend Dania, RN test me. After the testing, I found out that I was allergic to dust, grass, cats (I’ve had cats for over 20 years now), dogs (explains alot about my asthma as a kid growing up with dogs), and a couple other plants of some sort. NO food allergies! Dania looked at me laughing and said, “Well, you know you could get allergy shots, you reacted to 6 different allergens.” She knew that wasn’t the information I was looking for, I wanted to know what foods I should be avoiding. We sat there laughing….Watch what you go searching for, you might find completely different information that you aren’t prepared to deal with. Allergy testing, diagnosis, and treatment can be tricky. We tested Joshua, who exhibits every allergy symptom I’ve mentioned (minus the asthma and eczema), and he has a negative allergy panel…Go Figure! I’ve talked to Kathy, RN my best allergy source at the office and we both agree that an negative allergy panel is not conclusive; there is no way to test for the millions of substances that are floating around in this world. As I’ve told you before, Joshua is a special case and hard to figure out, he doesn’t usually follow the books… :-/
Well, I hope I’ve given you enough info to help you through the Spring. I talk more about food allergies and concomitant allergies in another post, Don’t eat that egg…You’re allergic to Ragweed. Concomitant allergies are foods that will make allergies worse. One example is avoiding apples during the season when oak trees are blooming. Another is avoiding milk, egg, and mint if you have a ragweed allergy. So, as you can see, allergy testing can be quite helpful!
I think it’s time end this post and go wash my face and hands… My cat came and sat down next to me about 10 minutes ago, which usually doesn’t bother me, but I was rubbing on him for a few minutes, and apparently touched my face, and now my eyes are all itchy and watering…. Still love my Jersey cat though! He’s a big, beautiful, black tom cat that will be 17 next month. He’s a sweety! Glad I didn’t know I had a cat allergy before I got him. Although, I had a sneaky suspicion when I got my Persian back in college and needed my inhaler every couple hours to breathe comfortably the first few days. After I got used to her, things got better, I should have known then. I guess I did, but I love cats, and denial is a powerful defense mechanism!
Please let me know if you have more questions about allergies, and I will do my best to help you along your parenting journey!